Friday, January 11, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Drama fest goes from 'fast forward' to 'play'

Special to the Seattle Times

"14/48 (X2)"

Co-produced by Consolidated Works, One World Theatre and Three Card Monty. Repeats tonight and tomorrow. 500 Boren Ave. N., Seattle. $14.48. 206-325-6500.
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Call it "ER" for the mind: 24 hours to write, cast, design, and rehearse seven 10-minute plays based on a very loose theme. Thursday night your writers write. Friday day you rehearse, edit, design. Friday night you perform. Then you do it again for Saturday — new theme, new plays, new cast, new directors all chosen randomly.

Billed as the World's Quickest Theater Festival, "14/48" debuted here in November 1997. This year's incarnation presented at ConWorks' new performing space (formerly Ducky's Office Furniture) ratchets up the action: two teams performing on two consecutive weekends.

Last week, the theme for the evening was "Sometimes You Have To Lie." The 14/48 band got things off to a rousing start, but unfortunately things slipped into retrograde with the opening play, "Mud Hill" by noted performer Lauren Weedman. What business do two Norwegian-sounding farmers, an exhibitionist son and a nearly mute farmhand have being in the same room? Alas, we never really find out.

"Two Dudes at Once" by Wayne Rawley follows and immediately wipes away all traces of previous bafflement. Smartly staged by Shawn Belyea, this show cooks. The title is the play: Three guys are sitting around eating lunch, one reveals his wife's current sexual fantasy, and the actors are off and running. Result: funny, very funny.

Next: "Through the Window" by Emily Fishkind. Her play concerns one man's need to face a tragedy that he perhaps could have prevented. The static bar-stool drama resembles what you feel when you have been waiting for a late Greyhound bus and it finally shows up.

Quickly, "The Eater" by Heidi Hiemark jolted us back awake. Full throttle, high octane Southern gothic, Hiemark's contribution combines poisonous snakes, Bible shouting and several love-making positions. Good, twisted, serpent-waving fun.

And a brief tour of the second-act shows: "My Uncle's Knuckles" by Willie Monigold is a two-man skit on the seldom-practiced art of shutting up. Some funny lines, some actor chemistry, not quite a play.

Tim Sander's "Untitled" aims for a loopy charm, but mainly makes old age seem really embarrassing, and Michael Neff's "Chicago" presents a married Yuppie couple who are so thoroughly boring they make infidelity nearly inevitable.

That's seven. Turns out there were eight, and the one titled "Sometimes You Have To Lie," did it all. Written by John Kaufman and acted with a ferocious comic energy by Mark Boeker, Phillip Enicott, Kevin Joyce and Brooke Rogers, the play brings lying into the shifting realities of a war zone. Both hilarious and tender, it does in 10 minutes what some other plays can't do in two hours: mess with your cherished illusions.


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